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134 Eldridge Street, Lower East Side, New York, US
MILK & HONEY CHANGED PERCEPTIONS in the bar world. Here was a bar that was painstaking in its devotion to refinement. It made dim lighting a talking point and secreted its achievements away from a New York limelight that often exposes the frailties in other bars.
The New York site became an institution and, since flattery is often borne out through imitation, many bar owners around the world politely purloined from the Milk & Honey concept.
Perhaps that’s why, in the end, the bar benefited from a facelift. When owner Sasha Petraske moved his concept on to pastures new, it surprised some, but sometimes it makes perfect sense to take stock and move on. When that happened though, his former employees, Michael McIlroy and Sam Ross, decided to stay.
Maybe they had squatters’ rights, but more likely they simply recognised the affection existing customers had for the site and saw the opportunity to keep running the space as a bar with a few changes.
The result is Attaboy, a venue that remains faithful to the bar that went before it, but one that brings a few changes. Brighter and more relaxed, this is not quite a reinterpretation of Milk & Honey, but it retains the values that made its predecessor so globally renowned, not least in the drinks.
The quality classics and creative interpretations Ross and McIlroy were making before they took over remain a firm fixture.
Elsewhere the changes are subtle but effective. The M&H rule about chatting up people at the bar doesn’t seem overly obvious any more, which is no bad thing since many people go to the bar to do exactly that. But common courtesy remains de rigueur.
The décor, meanwhile, raises a few question marks about that dim lighting - while it is still far from glaring, the dimmer switch has been turned up a notch and the new glow is accompanied by some fresher tunes. Ultimately it’s the same vibe, but different.
The bar still doesn’t exactly shout about its location, but the exposure of a window, once hidden behind curtains and regarded a dangerous portal for external recognition, sheds a new light into this bar. Rather than expose frailties, it now shines a spotlight on one of the best bars in the world.